Day 20: Davis Round 2
My uncle tried to convince me to stay in Folsom so he could pay me to put up Christmas lights, but I wanted to get back to my real job – riding my bike. My family in Folsom is great. They spoiled me rotten, but I got to give them a treat back with some homemade Chicken Masala. Not that difficult. I even got my uncle to eat lentils!
Instead of spending two days to venture the length of the American River plain, I cut it down to one since Zach was home in Portland for Thanksgiving. Wish I could have seen him again. It was an easy, mostly off-street ride all of the way to Davis. As I passed through downtown Sacramento I came across a Christmas Train event that my old roommate would have totally geeked out on. We used to stay up late, no matter the night, drinking Tallboys and smoking cigarettes talking about bikes, public transportation and changing the world one bike pedal at a time. He’s now in Chile. Hitchhiked there with his girlfriend/my other roommate. Great people. Being away turns you into a sap, but you know what? You need sap to make maple syrup.
I didn’t want to miss the entrance to the Noise Path in West Sac so I stopped and asked
some kids on BMX bikes where the path was, but they didn’t know. They asked me why I had so much stuff on my bike and I told them it was because I was on tour from Portland. “Like where the basketball team is from?” they asked me. “Yup.” They exchanged glances like I was some kind of superhero. I love the Blazers. Beat the Jazz last night for crying out loud. People say sports don’t have much to add to society but NBA ball allowed me to relate to these poor kids from some trailer park in a poor highway suburb. That’s got to count for something.
I got back on the path and saw how I was supposed to connect from Davis. Still, no signs. If you go on a highway with a lot of exits and entrances sometimes you can’t hardly focus on the road because of all the fleeting signs, but take similar infrastructure for a bicycle and you have to have a map and an extroverted personality to navigate it. Maybe I shouldn’t complain about how bicycle paths force you to reach out to people, but what if it is late at night and you need to get home?
I pulled into town and found a bike-up burger restaurant. I didn’t order anything, but I’ve had this idea for a long time. Sorry, no picture, but I was in a hurry to find N Street as it was getting dark. When I got to N Street I was treated to a heaping pile of Thanksgiving leftovers for $1.50. Great food and good conversation with those co-op folks. Afterwards, I met up with Jason and his roommate Charlie for drinks around town. We got kicked out of one because Jason’s friend, who was visiting from Japan, had lost his passport. Hate to say it, but I learned a lesson from his example. I will not make that mistake. No rad chain bed that night, but a comfy couch is just as well.
Day 21: Back to the Grind
I had planned on spending an extra day in Davis to get an official tour of Davis and bikes but I wanted to get back on the road. I had spent too much time lounging about and I could feel my muscles getting weaker (read, “bank account”). I gathered my things and headed back onto the road.
It was a fresh, sunny day and the road was a gorgeous mix of the University’s horse pastures, farms, and a winding openness. It was smooth riding until the turns headed me east and then I was met with a pretty gnarly headwind. I passed a bunch of little nothing towns trying to make my way into East Bay.
When I got to Vacaville I started to get a bit disgusted. The city is composed of windowed square boxes that are practically stacked on top of each other. All of them shared two cans of paint: gray, and gray-blue. And the strangest part was that the main boulevard had a pretty cobblestone sidewalk pocked with mini palm trees. It would be a nice road to look at from your backyard (because front yards aren’t to be seen by anyone but your neighbors in these types of towns). But running alongside the sidewalk was a 10 foot high, white brick wall. No ivy growing on it, no murals. Just a giant highway-barricade-esque wall, like a fortress built to keep out the sights and sounds of the transportation system that the whole community relies on. It seems strange to me that other options exist in the world, yet most people use a vehicle that everyone finds obnoxious.
And then the ride got scary. Peabody Road was tight, fast, and filled with semi’s delivering fruit like it was about to spoil. My knuckles were white all the way to Fairfield where I entered Air Force territory. A lot of fancy planes landed nearby fancier cars whizzing past me. Fairfield was a lot like Vacaville except there was a way cool car-free path that took me through the whole city and onto Suisun City. Suisun City was an out-of-place gem with a charming downtown beset upon a marina and outlined with round, white lights. Would have been a fun place to check out at nighttime.
Outside of Suisun (pronounced Swa-soon) was a basic frontage road that bulbed out at weird spots. Seemingly for no reason other than to someday put in isolated subdivisions. This was all headwind and I got a little bummed out pedaling through the mundane. But then I crested a hill and came upon the Mothball Fleet. The fleet is a grouping of decommissioned WWII carriers and ships. Some of them run, most don’t. I’ve seen them many times on travels with my family and have always thought it would be really cool to buy two or three and harbor them outside of Oakland or San Francisco and retrofit them into many neighborhoods. Have all rooms near the deck be for restaurants and shops and conglomerate some of the cabins to form apartments. One of my many pipe dreams.
Across the Suisun Bay rests the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, which has just been rebuilt with a bike path across it. Much cheaper than taking a ferry (although, apparently not as much fun). This dropped me into Martinez, my grandpa’s former residence. Another moment of disbelief of where I had gotten. I rolled through to Pleasant Hill where I found a bike path that took me all the way to Walnut Creek. I was hoping to make my way to St. Bede’s to see the infamous baseball field where my dad hit it over the trees. If you ask my dad it is an incredible story of one boy’s athletic dominance and courageous determination to lift his team to victory. If you ask my mom it’s a story of one man’s ridiculous clutching to boyhood glory.